MAY 16 - 2013
I went over to the
meadow this morning to take photos of the conservation
work session. It was a very pleasant spring morning,
warm and sunny and lots of people had turned up,
almost a record I would think. Rachel Moroney from the
TCV was present to check on the on the conservation
procedures for the insurance renewal. Maurice
introduced the session in his usual engaging fashion.
I am sure Rachel was impressed with what she saw. The
main task was to remove the Crack Willow tree that had
fallen across the river south of the S-bend.
and Rachel discussing safety procedures, etc
A Moorhen is
sitting on a nest in the river in front of the old
gasholder. We usually have three pairs nesting along
the river on Brook Meadow. Has she been on the beer?
Cow Parsley is
now looking fine along both side of the main river
path through Brook Meadow. False Fox Sedge is out on
the Lumley area and Stream Water-crowfoot is flowering
in the River Ems, both 2-3 weeks later than usual.
There were several
white butterflies fluttering around the meadow. I
managed to track one down which was a Green-veined
White, though I suspect the others were of the Large
or Small varieties. Other butterflies included Holly
Blue, Comma and Speckled Wood. Here is a Holly Blue on
the Ivy hedge that I took in my garden a when I got
Maurice Lillie reports
seeing a young Rabbit sitting for a few minutes
on the north meadow. Rabbits are not often seen on
Brook Meadow and probably originate from the gardens
I came across a
Slow-worm basking in the sunshine on the main
gravel path near the seat. After taking its photo, I
ushered it into the undergrowth.
No change on the
millponds. The Mute Swan is still sitting on six (?)
eggs on the 'litter nest' on the town millpond. On
Peter Pond, the Mute Swan was sitting snugly on her
nest on the island with her mate in the water nearby.
The Coot family with 5 chicks is intact and growing
well. The raft appears to have come loose from its
anchor and is now parked on the eastern side of the
pond. Maybe, this is deliberate by David Gattrell.
A Whitethroat was
singing as usual from the bushes in the centre of the
northern reedbeds, but there is still no sound of
either Reed Warbler or Sedge Warbler.
On Slipper Millpond
there is still one remaining Coot chick on the north
raft (from the original brood of six), but the south
raft where I saw 3 Coot chicks on May 5 is now totally
empty. Nick Medina told me he had seen a Great
Black-backed Gull on the south raft, so that no doubt
explains what happened to those chicks. The Great
Black-backed Gull was sitting on her nest on the
provided the following up date on the seabirds on the
"It is beginning to
look as if very few/no Common or Sandwich Terns will
be nesting on the two islands in the Oysterbeds'
lagoon - Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls seem to
have bagged almost all of the suitable space, leaving
very little if any room for the later arrivals
(including the three pairs of Oystercatchers that have
been seen feeding, roosting & copulating but not
making nesting attempts).
No Black-headed Gull
chicks have yet been seen, but the first hatchlings
will probably appear within the next few days although
the main hatching will probably be towards the end of
next week or later.
The recently imported
and graded shingle (100 tonnes at the western end of
the NW Bund) has encouragingly attracted some
high-tide roosting terns - today, there were eight
Little Terns (plus two more on the weathered chalky
material west of the import - an area that will be
flooded by most of the higher spring tides, hence much
sought after by Little Terns!). There are now five
likely potential nesting sites for Little Terns
(Baker's island, the recharge on South Binness Island,
the North Spit, the western end of the NW Bund and the
raft on the Deeps at Farlington Marshes. It would be
great if Little Terns used all of these sites - even
if only a few pairs at some - that would enhance
likelihood of at least some productivity!
At least one pair of
Common Terns looked as if they were considering
nesting on the shingle import. Hopefully, there will
soon be terns nesting there and a suitably experienced
contractor will have erected a security fence to deter
people and animals from accessing the bund.
It was good to see
Orange Tip, Green-veined White and Small White
butterflies on the 'Mound', which also has a good
flowering show of Bluebells, Celandines, Bugles etc
(but Milk Thistles seem to be in terminal
MAY 15 - 2013
I have been doing
surveys of some of the Emsworth waysides over the past
couple of days and I can say for sure that spring
flowers are coming out at last.
the full report with photos go to the waysides web
site at . . .
Jean and I were
sitting having our lunch when I spotted a bird on one
of the sunflower heart feeders in the garden. Wow, a
male Bullfinch. I grabbed my camera (a spare which I
always keep handy) and got a couple of quick shots
through the window before it flew off. Fortunately, it
returned about an hour later to settle on a bird tray
for several minutes, enabling me to get some better
This was only the 4th
Bullfinch sighting in our garden near the centre of
Emsworth since moving to the present house in 1997;
the others (all males) were in Jan 1999, Jun 2000 and
Maurice Lillie told me
he had seen a Whitethroat with nesting material near
the bramble bushes south of the causeway on Brook
Meadow. This is very good news as Whitethroat is one
our of three regular summer visitors to Brook Meadow.
Lesley Harris reports
that she carried out a bat survey on Brook Meadow on
Monday evening with Nik Knight, David Search and
Debbie Robinson. They started the walk with a
brilliant sunset rainbow over Palmers Road Car park
and when it was dark they strolled through the Cow
Parsley that lines the main river path through the
meadow. Lesley says the flowers were radiant white in
the darkness - quite magical. She wonders if they
contain some form of ultra violet? I don't know the
answer. Does anyone?
MAY 14 - 2013
Wintercress is now in
flower on the Seagull Lane patch on Brook Meadow. It
has simple upper stem leaves which distinguishes it
from Early Wintercress.
The pen was sitting on
the 'litter nest' on the town millpond with her mate
close by when I passed this morning. Very encouraging.
Will these birds confound my expectations? Last egg
was laid about May 3, so hatching due June 7 (36
days). The pen was snug on her nest on the Peter Pond
island with her mate in the water nearby. Last egg
laid Apr 28, hatching due June 3.
There were definitely
two Nightingales singing when I was there this
afternoon at about 2pm. Both were at the northern end
of the lane, one by the open 'ride' to the east and
the other near the metal gate to the new farm area.
MAY 13- 2013
Andy Brook and his
Hollybank Woods colleagues have strimmed the eastern
section of the wayside where brambles were threatening
to take over. It looks much better and it seems
unlikely that too much damage was done to the emerging
wild flowers. Marsh Woundwort is the main plant in
this area and it does not flower until the summer.
I discovered a number
of new plants for the wayside list not previously
recorded. I expect to find a lot of new ones as the
season progresses as I did not start making the list
last year until August. Lilac bush in full blossom in
the eastern corner of the site. Goat's-beard, Smooth
Meadow-grass and Grey Sedge on the main site. Beaked
Hawk's-beard, Sweet Vernal Grass and Black Grass on
the New Brighton Road embankment outside the main
Black Grass is
growing in tufts immediately outside the metal gate on
New Brighton Road. All the features seem to fit this
identification. It has hairless leaves and long narrow
inflorescences over 10cm long, tapering to their tips,
and slightly purplish. The spikelets have long awns
projecting 5mm beyond the glumes. Black Grass is
common in SE England in waste ground and can be a
serious arable weed. Flowers May-Aug.
Other plants newly in
flower (but not new to the list) include Common Vetch,
Bulbous Buttercup, Cut-leaved Crane's-bill, Ribwort
Plantain, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Scarlet Pimpernel, Red
Clover, Wintercress, Smooth Sow-thistle, Scented
Mayweed, Oil-seed Rape, Scented Mayweed, Field
Forget-me-not (with tiny flowers), Thyme-leaved
Speedwell, Lesser Swine-cress, Cocksfoot, Soft Brome,
Yorkshire Fog, False Fox Sedge, Spiked Sedge.
is a close-up shot of the Lesser Swine-cress
These sightings bring
the total number of plants recorded on this wayside in
2013 so far to 77 from a grand total of 148 for the
site as a whole (including the area in front of the
attractive hoverfly (Helophilus pendulus) was feeding
on a Dandelion flower
camouflaged Crab Spider was lurking on one of the
I watched two Dunnocks
in a pre-copulation display in which the female bird
voluntarily exposed her cloaca (genitals) to the male
bird who then pecked at the cloaca to remove the sperm
from a previous copulation. I have often read about
this behaviour but never actually witnessed it before.
photo shows the female exposing her cloaca to the
reported that the Mute Swan on the 'litter nest' on
Emsworth Millpond is back to just 6 eggs, having had 7
when she last saw her, and supposedly 9 on May 8,
according to neighbours. Rosemary says the heavy winds
seem to have blown away all her soft dried
The Coot pair that
nested on the floating raft on Peter Pond still have
their 5 chicks which are now growing and looking
healthy. A Coot sitting on a nest in the reeds a
little to the south of the No Fishing sign. I could
only see one chick being fed by the parents on the
north raft on Slipper Millpond where the Great
Black-backed Gull was sitting on its nest on the
centre raft. The Mute Swan looked snug on its nest on
the Peter Pond island while her mate patrolled Slipper
Millpond for intruders.
My first May
blossom of the year was out on the Hawthorn bushes
along Lillywhite's path wayside. Very late.
Mike Wells had a good
view of one of the Peregrines nesting on Chichester
Cathedral on Sunday morning (May 12). Mike managed
to get this fine image of the bird in flight despite
it breaking the local speed limit!
noticed some white Bluebells at Stansted this morning.
There were only about 5 plants and only in one of the
10 or so large patches of bluebells that Kirsteen
walks by most mornings. Blamey, Fitter and Fitter
(p.308) note that most large populations of native
Bluebells have a few scattered white spikes so it was
good that Kirsteen spotted these. Has anyone else seen
any. Note the Spanish Bluebell and the hybrids often
have a variety of colours including white.
Jean and I were on the
Isle of Wight from Wed May 8 to Sun May 12 visiting my
son and his family in Cowes. The weather was not good
while we were there, but I managed to get to a few of
my favourite spots, including Newtown Nature Reserve,
Walter's Copse, Northwood Cemetery, plus an
interesting new site of Fort Victoria. Two new
discoveries for me were Heath Wood-rush (Luzula
multiflora ssp. multiflora) and Southern Wood-rush
the complete report with photos please go to . .
Juliet Walker has
looked at the "litter nest" on the town millpond every
day, but she has not seen the pen standing up, so she
has not been able to count the eggs again. However, I
suspect t has remained at six which was the last
confirmed count. Juliet is struck at what good
housekeepers the pair are, forever adding new bits of
rubbish to the nest! She asks where have most of the
other swans on the millpond gone? There are only two
or three others about most of the time. Are they off
on their own nests, or has the cob driven them away?
watched the Environment Agency conduct their survey of
the fish in the River Ems on Brook Meadow by electric
fishing, something he has never seen before
They did a stretch
from the south bridge to the observation fence, they
had a large bucket of fish by the time they finished
including a nice Pike, lots of Eels, Bullheads and
some young Trout. They said that the river looked in
good condition, but thought they should have found
MAY 7 - 2013
No new developments on
the local millponds. The swan on the 'litter nest' on
the town millpond seems to be doing her job in tending
to eggs, though she has a thankless task in those
conditions, with a nest, mostly of scraps of paper and
twigs, on bare mud right beneath the bridge where
people constantly pass.
The swan on the Peter
Pond island also seems to be doing well, she was
sitting snugly on the nest when I passed by this
morning with her mate on the pond nearby. The Coot
family seem to be OK. There is still no sound of Reed
Warbler or Sedge Warbler from the reedbeds on the
north of Peter Pond.
Over on Slipper
Millpond the Great Black-backed Gull was on the nest
on the centre raft and the Coots were tending to their
two chicks on the north raft.
The Seagull Lane
patch, which has been cleared of brambles over the
past two years, now has lots of flowers and is a very
good nectar source for butterflies and other insects.
Several Orange Tips of both sexes were
attracted to the flowering Garlic Mustard which is
abundant in this area. Garlic Mustard is one of the
Orange Tip caterpillar's main feeding plants, the
other is Cuckooflower. Malcolm Phillips got a good
image of the green mottled underwing of a Orange Tip;
it could be a male or female as the upper wing is not
shown in the photo.
I got a photo of a
Green-veined White also feeding on the Garlic
Mustard in this area.
I was particularly
pleased to see, albeit a very battered looking,
Small Tortoiseshell feeding on a Dandelion
flower head on the orchid area of the north meadow.
This was my first Small Tortoiseshell of the year of
this once common butterfly; I don't think I saw one at
all last year.
My first Cranefly
of the year was stumbling around in the long
Pam Phillips and other
residents of The Rookery off Lumley Road report
hearing a Cuckoo calling loudly early most mornings at
about 5am. However, it has not been seen or heard in
the area during the day which suggests it may be the
Thorney bird moving around.
Roy Ewing and his wife
also heard a Cuckoo at 5am this morning, whilst in
bed. Roy said it sounded so close it could have been
in the garden. Roy lives in Brent Court near Nore Barn
Woods so this is unlikely to the be the Thorney bird.
So, there is probably another early morning wanderer
in the Warblington Farm area.
Rich Daley recently
set up a one-man hide in his back garden and, as he
said, has been virtually 'living in it' ever since. He
has been getting some good photos including this male
Great Spotted Woodpecker. Nice one. We look forward to
The first Common
Sorrel of the year is now out on the Bridge Road
Wayside. This is about the same time as last year
which makes a change from all the late flowers.
MAY 6 - 2013
Voles with food
Malcolm Phillips spent
a few hours on Brook Meadow today and saw 2 Water
Voles just up from the north bridge, the first one was
on the west bank feeding and whilst watching this one
a second one came out of the east bank. Malcolm
watched the latter vole for over an hour as it went
backwards and forwards along the bank collecting
greens and taking them back in the hole. The vole was
certainly working very hard as you can see from
Malcolm's photo, almost certainly taking food for
youngsters in the burrows.
Thrush at nest
Malcolm also saw
several of the resident birds, including this Song
Thrush at its nest. Malcolm uses a very long lens on
his camera which means there was no chance of any
disturbance to the nest.
in Nore Barn Woods
had a treat today. He was standing under the
Sparrowhawk nest in Nore Barn Woods when the male
presented a mouse to the female in an aerial ballet
before she took it up to the nest. So things look good
for this year!
Wood for Bluebells
Graham Petrie has had
some memorable experiences over the past few days. He
visited Ashling Wood (on my recommendation ) to see a
great display of Bluebells. This is certainly the best
place to see them in the local area, though they
should be coming through well in Hollybank Woods and
Stansted Forest by now. Graham also saw a Roe Deer,
Nuthatch and a resident Buzzard living in the middle
of the woods.
Brooks for Nightingales
Graham stopped off in
Marlpit on the way back to see if he could hear the
Nightingales, but they were not singing. Sometimes
they are silent. However, he did hit the jackpot at
Pulborough Brooks where he heard (and saw) three
Nightingales all singing openly. Pulborough is
certainly the place to visit for Nightingales this
sent this superb close-up photo of a Pond Skater,
three of which he has dashing around on the surface of
his garden pond.
Peter's photo shows
the structure of the insect very well with with wings
folded across its back and very long legs, the middle
pair of which are used for propulsion and the rear
pair for steering. The short front legs are used for
gripping its prey. It is able to skate on the surface
of water thanks to dense pads of hair on the underside
and on the ends of four of the legs which traps
pockets of air. I tend to find Pond Skaters on the
stream that runs behind my house, sometimes up to 100
at a time, though I have not seen any this spring.
MAY 5 - 2013
I went over to the
meadow this morning mainly to take a few photos of the
regular conservation work session. The numbers were
down a bit on the usual turnout, probably due to the
Bank Holiday weekend and the Emsworth Arts Trail which
was carrying on today. The main tasks were laying down
fresh gravel around the signcases and other vulnerable
areas of pathway. They received some very welcome help
from three youngsters (Molly, Conna and Harry) who
were on the meadow at the time in dragging the heavy
bags of gravel.
The birds were in good
voice this morning. Spring has definitely sprung as
far as they are concerned! I heard 5 Blackcaps, 4
Whitethroats, but surprisingly not a single
Chiffchaff. Other songsters included Song Thrush (3
singing), Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit,
The Black Poplar
at the northern edge of the Lumley area is now in
leaf and looking very handsome. While I was looking at
it a Green Woodpecker landed right at the top and flew
off towards Lumley Road. You can't see it on this
All the new Oak
saplings on the Seagull Lane patch are looking
healthy with fresh brown buds showing and a few early
leaves. The one I planted also had a small
(unidentified) snail on the stem.
are now out as are the spathes of Lords and
Ladies, about 2 weeks later than usual.
The infertile stems of
Field Horsetail are showing well at the
northern end of the Bramble path in front of the Horse
Chestnut saplings. Distant Sedge is now
flowering on the Lumley area.
The Seagull Lane
patch, where the conservation group cleared the
brambles, is now looking very good with a variety of
wild flowers showing well, including a patch of
Wintercress in bud at the far end of the patch.
While I was on the
Seagull Lane patch this morning, a beautiful
Speckled Wood butterfly came to rest on a leaf
just long enough for me to take its photo. These have
just come out in the past week.
I love to watch
Bumblebees buzzing around flowers for nectar
and pollen. There were two on the Seagull Lane patch
today feeding on the White Dead-nettles and
Dandelions. One was a big hairy queen with two yellow
stripes, probably Buff-tail Bumblebee (Bombus
terrestris). The other, judging from its well-filled
pollen sacks, was a worker with a ginger thorax which
I think could be B. pascuorum.
The Mute Swan
'litter nest' on the town millpond continues to
attract a lot of attention from people crossing the
bridge into Emsworth. The pen was off the nest when I
was there and four eggs were visible but others may
have been covered. The most eggs that have been seen
is four. Calculating 36 days incubation from the
laying of the last egg (May 3), I would estimate
hatching would be around 7th June. That is quite a
long time for something to go wrong at this very
The Mute Swan
was off the nest on the Peter Pond island when I
passed this morning, but I could see three eggs though
others could have been covered. I think the last egg
was laid around Apr 28, so hatching should be around
3rd June for this nest, if all goes well. The Coot
family with the 5 chicks was looking healthy on the
east side of the pond.
The Coots on
the north raft still have their 2 remaining chicks.
The Coots nesting on the south raft have now produced
three chicks. All chicks are sensibly remaining on
relative safety of the raft. The Great Black-backed
Gulls were on the centre raft as usual. The male bird
was struggling with a huge Eel while I was there. How
did it manage to catch that?
Eric Eddles has a nice
surprise when he walked around Baffins Pond this
morning to see a Canada Goose family with six
Knowing that the Emsworth Ramblers were going over
Noar Hill today, Tony Wootton took his camera and got
the classic Noar Hill butterfly - Duke of Burgundy.
on Langstone Mill Pond
was delighted to see the 'first' swim of three new
cygnets on Langstone Mill Pond today.
"They were in the nest
to start with, poking their heads out from underneath
the mother. Then she got up and the male came over and
between them they encouraged the three cygnets into
the water. The two adults were violently stirring up
the water, dunking their heads under and yanking huge
lumps of weed to the surface for the three cute
cygnets to feed. The male even came over and took some
bread and then presented some to the cygnets. A very
enchanting sight and it had drawn quite a crowd in the
glorious afternoon sunshine."
MAY 4 - 2013
Malcolm Phillips saw a
Water Vole by the north bridge at 10.50am, but
there was no sign of the young vole that he saw
Link to special page
on the Water Voles of Brook Meadow . . .
I heard at least three
Blackcaps singing strongly when I walked through the
meadow this afternoon, so they have definitely
arrived. But there was no sight or sound of
Whitethroat; I hope they are still here.
Maurice Lillie noted
this morning an example of how nature takes any
opportunity to survive. His photo of the Crack Willow
that has fallen across the river from the north path
on Brook Meadow has several different plants growing
on and in the cracks of the, still live, tree. These
are examples of epiphytic growth, ie when one plant
grows on another but is not parasitic on it. Lichens,
mosses and ferns growing on trees are also epiphytic.
David Gattrell was
hard at work clearing the new eastern channel through
the reedbeds to the north of Peter Pond. David is
doing such a good job on the pond; he deserves a
One of David's
creations was the new floating raft in the centre of
Peter Pond on which Coot nested this spring. The
Coot family comprising five chicks are now on
the pond being tended to by their ever vigilant
I heard the hurried,
rather scratchy, but musical song of a Sedge
Warbler from the northern reedbeds. This was the
first I have heard here this year, though Peter
Milinets-Raby did hear one here on Apr 19.
The Mute Swan
was off its nest on the Peter Pond island. Maurice
Lillie saw the pen (with the pink legs) turning at
least three eggs in the nest, a good sign that she is
caring well for them.
The Coots on the north
raft on Slipper Millpond still have their two chicks
which is good news as they lost 4 of the original
brood of 6 chicks very quickly, probably to the Great
Black-backed Gulls. The gulls were both on the centre
raft with one bird sitting on the nest.
spent a couple of hours along the Warblington shore
this morning from 6:30am. The birds of note were: A
pair of Gadwall seen to fly out of the 'Ibis Field'
and head off south.
High tide - on the
island off Warblington: 55 Dunlin, 1 Bar-tailed
Godwit, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, 2
Whimbrel, 1 Knot - full summer plumage, 1 Ringed
Plover, 6 Grey Plover - summer, female Red Breasted
Merganser, 1 Med Gull, 2 Curlew, 6 Oystercatcher.
Flying about were 6 Little Terns, 2 to 4+ Common Terns
and 4+ Swallows. Very little else - too cold, too
windy (through the forecast for the next three days
could see some good birds coming in!!!! - lets hope
thought we might like to see an Eastern Kingbird
feeding its young, which he took while on holiday in
MAY 3 - 2013
young Water Vole
Malcolm Phillips had
two Water Vole sightings today. The first was just up
from the north bridge at 11am (Section A), the second
on the north bank almost under the willow over the
river (Section A1), but this one looked about half the
size of the first one and was probably the first
youngster of the year. These were the first Water Vole
sightings we have had for about 2 weeks. I assume the
voles were spending more time in their burrows tending
to their young.
of Brook Meadow
Maurice Lillie had "a
wonderful stroll around Brook Meadow this evening with
the dogs. What amazing weather after a horrible winter
that seemed to go on and on. Not seeing any sky for
weeks on end takes its toll. Spring has arrived with a
heck of a rush and bird song is incredible as they
seem to play catch-up. We saw crows, pigeons, two
Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Whitethroat, Song Thrush,
Blackbird, Dunnock, gulls, Coots, ducks, Robins, Wren,
Great Tits, Blue Tits, Long Tailed Tits, Chaffinch,
Blackcap - all in the space of twenty minutes." Here
is Maurice's photo of a Carrion Crow, a common
resident of Brook Meadow, but surprisingly
visited Langstone Mill Pond area this morning where he
noted a good variety of birds, including some
lingering winter visitors, 35 Bar-tailed Godwits and 9
Dunlin. He counted 37 Little Egrets in the trees
behind the millpond, all very quiet, no displaying
going on, with a possible 29/30 nests. Unusual
sightings in this area were 2 male and 2 female Tufted
Peter came over to
Emsworth where he found a Mute Swan sitting on 'litter
nest' panting in the heat! From the size of the knob
on its bill my guess is that this is the male taking
its turn at incubating the eggs. This is a good sign
that the pair are trying hard in very difficult
circumstances. You never know . . .
Roy Ewing heard the
Thorney Cuckoo at 9.30am today in the shore copse, to
the west of Thorney Road/Thornham Lane junction. This
is probably one of the birds that have been reported
here several times over the past couple of weeks.
Roy Ewing informs me
that the Environment Agency have diverted the flow
from the eastern arm of the River Ems that goes
alongside Mill Lane, north of the A27, into the
western arm that passes through the fields behind
Westbourne Avenue. He is not sure whether it is
temporary or not or why it was done. Does anyone know
anything about this?
Tortoiseshell in garden
Patrick Murphy had a
rare visitor to his North Emsworth garden today - a
Small Tortoiseshell butterfly. Lucky chap. He thought
it looked a bit jaded, but it does not look too bad to
me. It would be one which hibernated over the winter.
Kirsteen Titchener was
in Stansted Forest which she says was absolutely
beautiful in the early in the morning. She has been
waiting for the Bluebells to flower, they're nearly in
full bloom, but still not quite. The same applies to
those in Hollybank Woods. However, I can really
recommend the display in Ashling Wood at West Stoke
which is superb.
Janet Hider was at
Pagham Harbour and thought folk might like to know
that the small visitor centre at Sidlesham has been
closed for updating and should re-open on May 17th.
(Toilets are still available).
Chris Cockburn sends
the following news update from the
Lots of Black-Headed
Gulls are now on nests on the two islands in the
Oysterbeds lagoon; but some have already had to
re-nest following tidal flooding! Unlike the five
harbour islands and the harbour's beaches, the two
lagoon islands do not have tidal strandlines and,
therefore, the birds have no useful indications for
apparently safe nesting areas.
In a first for the
site, Mediterranean gulls are nesting on the East
Island (perhaps it should be called Banana Island,
given its shape in plan-view). Mediterranean gulls
seem to prefer well-vegetated nesting sites and this
year East Island does have some perennial vegetation
(Sea Couch and Sea Beet) - despite my hope that
vegetation clearance would happen. So, watch out for
grey chicks as well as the brown black-headed gull
Sandwich, Common and
Little Terns have been roosting on the Stoke Bay
shingle spit at high tide and at least two pairs of
common terns & one pair of Sandwich terns have
briefly roosted on East Island.
100 tons of graded
shingle has been ferried out and graded on the western
end of a bund (the "NW Bund" that forms the northern
edge of the lagoon) - it is hoped that Little Terns
will nest there (they have used that area in past
years). The imported shingle might also attract
nesting Oystercatchers and ringed plovers.
Four little tern
decoys have been placed on a vegetation-cleared area
of the "North Spit" (an 'island' north east of the
lagoon); yet another potential little tern
that Bob Chapman's designed Little-Tern raft will
prove successful (it will be placed in the Deeps at
Farlington Marshes LNR, which is managed by the
Hampshire & IoW Wildlife Trust).
There are now five
potential Little Tern nesting sites in the harbour -
if all of them are used, even if only by a few birds,
there is a much better chance of at least some
productivity instead of total failure when all of the
birds nest at the same location and predation or tidal
season on the harbour islands (South Binness, Round
Nap & Baker's Islands) has only just started, one
of the latest starts ever and possibly because of
frequent presence of large raptors. Adult female and
adult male Peregrines have been observed roosting on
Round Nap Island and today there were two major
disturbances (early this afternoon, a Buzzard was
using the thermals rising from South Binness and this
evening, most of the gulls on South Binness abandoned
their nests from at least 19:30 to 20:20, possibly
because a raptor was enjoying a meal on the beach).
The high tide roosts
at Stoke Bay are worth watching; recently
summer-plumage Dunlins, Sanderlings, Knot, Bar-Tailed
Godwit and Greenshank have been recorded.
1. BBC Countryfile
will be showing a snippet about the Oysterbeds on Sun
2. It would be really
appreciated if some of you could spare some of your
valuable free time to help by volunteering with RSPB
by greeting visitors at the Oysterbeds. Alison, Emma
and Ian - I do hope that you can help again.
Many correspondents on
Hoslist have been commenting on the scarcity of common
birds this spring. Richard Broughton cites two main
causes. Firstly, most species had a terrible breeding
season in 2012 due to the bad summer weather. This was
picked up in BTO surveys of productivity:
Secondly, the late spring has quietened down a lot of
birds and there is not much singing to be heard. The
lack of insect food means they might be concentrating
on feeding more than singing.
MAY 2 - 2013
10:30 - 11:30 - I had
a walk around the Marlpit Lane area this morning,
mainly on the listen for Nightingales and Turtle
were singing loudly from the bushes to the east of
the lane about 200 metres north of the amenity tip.
They were remarkably close together, not more than 20
metres apart. I happened to meet Dave Mead who I had
not seen for a few years, along the footpath from the
lane. He said he had seen a Turtle Dove a
couple of days ago on the site near the gate to the
forestry area. While we were talking what could have
been a third Nightingale suddenly started
singing from the bushes alongside the footpath. I
walked back along the footpath north of the dog
kennels, where I used to hear Willow Warbler, but
there was no sound today. I was also surprised not to
hear any Whitethroats which used to be very common on
this site. Those were the days when Lapwing nested
here, but not for many years now.
I had my first
Speckled Wood of the year. A male Orange Tip
was patrolling the footpath through the Marlpit Lane
Along the footpath by
the kennels, I found a good growth of Common
Dog-violets with overlapping petals and pale
notched spurs. Also, my first Germander
Speedwell of the year with two rows of hairs on
opposite sides of the stem.
Juliet Walker keeps a
close eye on the 'litter nest' on Emsworth Millpond
and writes to say the swan is now sitting on 6 eggs.
She says it now has some nice hay-like, soft bedding
material, possibly thrown there by a kind person or
collected by the male swan?
I have been waiting
for Speckled Wood butterflies to appear on Brook
Meadow and today Malcolm Phillips got the first photo
Tony Browne reported
he had seen two unidentified butterflies 'dancing in
shade over the path west of the south bridge' which
were almost certainly Speckled Woods. That is the area
they really love and can they dance!
is out again, as in the previous three years, on the
pavement in Bridge Road just north of my house. Last
year it was out 2 weeks earlier than this on April 19.
Initially I referred
to it as Common Cornsalad, until I heard from Ralph
Hollins that Eric Clement told him that the default
Cornsalad species here in Hampshire is V. carinata (ie
Keel-fruited Cornsalad) and not V. locusta (Common
Cornsalad). Keel-fruited Cornsalad is so-called after
its deeply grooved and keeled fruits. I checked the
seeds last year to confirm the plant as Keel-fruited
I went to the
Warblington Underpass wayside to look for the Parsley
Piert that Ralph Hollins told me he had found on the
site. I had no problem finding the plants with their
very parsley-looking leaves, low growing among some
mosses at the far end of the wayside in front of the
The flowers are tiny
(less than 2mm) in dense clusters in leaf axils,
surrounded by cups formed by leaf stipules. I managed
to separate one out for a microscope photo which still
hard to see. It shows what I think is the stamen in
the centre of the green petals.
New Atlas: A winter-
or (less frequently) spring-germinating annual of dry,
basic to somewhat acidic soils in arable fields, bare
patches in grassland and lawns, heaths and woodland
rides, open ground in rough and waste places,
gravel-pits and along railways. Native. European
Temperate element; widely naturalised outside its
Other flowers on the
wayside included Dove's-foot Cranesbill, Honesty,
Common Nettle, Field Madder (on the north edge of the
kerb to the Underpass), Bulbous Buttercup (on north
embankment), Spotted Medick, Common Mouse-ear, Hairy
Bittercress, Cleavers (first of the year), Cow
Parsley, Field Wood-rush (by the broken fence),
Cocksfoot, Barren Brome (against the wall of the
Underpass entrance), Soft Brome (where the grass is
uncut on the Havant Road verge).
is the tiny flower of Cleavers
As for the origin of
the Bar-headed Geese seen in Fishbourne Channel
yesterday by Roy Hay, Ralph Hollins suggests they
could have come from a small flock that was kept at
the Trout Fishing lakes beside the Hambrook Stream on
Priors Leaze Lane at SU781059. They occasionally flew
off to appear at other local sites.
MAY 1 - 2013
Warbler or what?
Within the space of 10
minutes this morning, Tony Wootton saw three birds in
the Cherry Plum tree in the garden of Gooseberry
Cottage. They were a male Blackcap, a Whitethroat and
a third bird which Tony thought could be a Willow
Warbler rather than a Chiffchaff. He heard no song.
His photos show a bold supercillium, a light belly,
pale legs (in one photo) and fairly long wings. I
agree Willow Warbler is more likely than Chiffchaff,
but I would have expected a lighter, more yellow,
plumage in a Willow Warbler than the bird in Tony's
photos. Maybe, it is something else, a rare bird,
is the photo showing the pale legs and belly
bold supercilium shows well in this photo
with wings like that! Any ideas?
fresh from holiday in Cuba, provides a good photo of
what I am fairly sure is a Chiffchaff taken today on
Brook Meadow. It is interesting to compare it with
Tony's bird, which has a bolder supercilium and an
overall sleeker appearance.
Anne de Potier has
also been watching the Black-tailed Godwits in 'Texaco
Bay' on North Hayling and says the colour-ringed
Black-tailed Godwit that I reported in yesterday's
blog entry as W+YG was in fact L+YG. She had
seen it before clearly. I noted at the time that the
white ring on the left leg looked dirty and could be
lime and so it was. Looking through my Godwit
colour-ringed records I have only one other sighting
for this bird which was by Trevor Carpenter at
Farlington Marshes on 08-Feb-09. Here is Trevor's good
image of the bird. That lime ring does look like a
dirty white one.
Anne said there were
another 26 Black-tailed Godwits on the north shore at
Langstone yesterday (including L+GN), plus a couple of
dozen Bar-tailed Godwits. Anne also said that Whimbrel
I got on the 'Texaco Bay' shore has been around for a
Regarding the 'litter
nest' on the town millpond, Juliet Walker noticed this
afternoon that the water has receded and the nest is
more or less high and dry! She asks, 'Is that a good
or bad thing?' I think it is a bad thing since it
makes access to the nest so much easier and the eggs
more vulnerable - e.g. to foxes and even humans.
However, if the water level goes too high then the
nest will be swamped which is even worse. I think
someone (not sure who) asked the Environment Agency to
control the millpond sluice so that the water level
would remain fairly low for the benefit of the nest.
You can't win!
Our regular Fishbourne
correspondent, Roy Hay got a couple of good images
lovely fresh Small Tortoiseshell taken on a path on
of Bar-headed Geese at the end of Fishbourne creek. I
wonder where they could have come from?
earlier observations go to . . April